Harvard Scientists Build a Device to Smoke Weed During Brain Scan
October 2, 2007 10:09 AM   Subscribe

It's not often one gets one's bong in the scientific literature, let alone one designed to allow you to smoke weed inside an MRI scanner...
Most studies on the neuroscience of marijuana have used pills or injections of THC, the main active ingredient, but this is quite different from smoking - both in the way it reaches the brain and because of the fact that burning the plant creates many other chemicals which also get inhaled.

A team from Harvard Medical School are interested in how smoked marijuana affects the brain, but have come to the inevitable conclusion that it's actually quite hard smoking a joint when you're lying on your back being brain scanned. [via]
posted by prostyle (62 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Displaying skills that would put MacGyver to shame, Frederick constructed a makeshift water pipe inside of a picnic cooler, then ran 2.4 meters of tubing to a plastic facemask that rests inside of the scanner."

That's run-of-the-mill pothead ingenuity if you ask me.
posted by Plutor at 10:18 AM on October 2, 2007 [12 favorites]


Bong hits for science!
posted by empath at 10:19 AM on October 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


Marijuana Resonance Imaging?
posted by JibberJabber at 10:21 AM on October 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm sure they'll get around to writing a paper about it. Sometime.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:25 AM on October 2, 2007 [9 favorites]


The inside of an MRI machine strikes me as a totally bad place to get a buzz.
posted by Avenger at 10:27 AM on October 2, 2007 [4 favorites]


4:20 ... gigawatts, man!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:30 AM on October 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: it's actually quite hard smoking a joint when you're lying on your back being brain scanned.
posted by Bearman at 10:30 AM on October 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


The comments crack me up. Not a lot of science majors in the crowd.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:31 AM on October 2, 2007


The inside of an MRI machine is actually a really cool place to be stoned. All those weird noises going on. However, I'm a little disappointed that the most complex bong in the world has a wooden bowl on it.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:33 AM on October 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


Next up: fMRI capable gravity bong.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:33 AM on October 2, 2007


Sadly, 60% of the test subjects choked to death while eating Doritos lying down.
posted by bondcliff at 10:37 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dude.... wait... what?
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:37 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The researchers suggested using stronger weed to achieve more realistic effects."

"Dude, this shit is weak. We're never buying from that guy again."
posted by ninjew at 10:37 AM on October 2, 2007


Have you ever had an MRI... on weed?
posted by Poolio at 10:40 AM on October 2, 2007


This strikes me as bad and unnecessary 'science'. Wouldn't you get better results if you got an individual and titrated up the amount of THC in him or her (over an interval of hours, days, weeks or months), and THEN take the MRI so you wouldn't screw-up the scan?

Even if the goal of the study is to determine the chemical's effect over time, there are better, more dependable ways of getting the information than putting some contraption into the mRI machine, much less getting the technicians contact-high.

As someone who's spent a fair amount of time in one of those machines, I'm just sayin'...
posted by vhsiv at 10:42 AM on October 2, 2007


vhsiv, would you rather have data about an idealised use of marijuana or would you rather have data that refers to the reality of marijuana use?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:47 AM on October 2, 2007


there are better, more dependable ways of getting the information than putting some contraption into the mRI machine, much less getting the technicians contact-high.

None of which would give the technicians an awesome excuse for a contact high. Stop harshing the mellow, man.
posted by cortex at 10:48 AM on October 2, 2007


Why does this MRI machine have Deadhead stickers all over it?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:49 AM on October 2, 2007 [11 favorites]


Dude! Check out my brain, man!
posted by brain_drain at 10:55 AM on October 2, 2007 [7 favorites]


Eponystericality unintended.
posted by brain_drain at 10:55 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, if I were a scientist I'd want the iealized results, but as a patient I'd only be concerned about the results.
posted by vhsiv at 10:56 AM on October 2, 2007


MR-high?
posted by uncleozzy at 10:57 AM on October 2, 2007


Yea, why are they not using a glass bowl...seems that the burning wood would affect the integrity of the smoke...

But, awesome! i would love to be 'tested.'
posted by schyler523 at 11:01 AM on October 2, 2007


Oh, sweet! This is just like that T. Rex song!

Get it on
Scan a bong
Scan a bong!

As usual, Marc Bolan's prophecies come to pass with frightening accuracy.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:02 AM on October 2, 2007 [6 favorites]


It came with his hubcap diamond star halo.

Still, bold day for science!
posted by klangklangston at 11:05 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Btw, if you read the actual link, the bong was actually specially designed to *avoid* contact highs for the lab techs and the the next experimental subjects.

However, I have to say that "contact high" is more likely a placebo effect than a pharmacological one...
posted by Maias at 11:13 AM on October 2, 2007


20th century toy, I wanna be your boy
posted by quin at 11:14 AM on October 2, 2007


Dude, that was my skull!
posted by kcds at 11:29 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


vhsiv writes "This strikes me as bad and unnecessary 'science'. Wouldn't you get better results if you got an individual and titrated up the amount of THC in him or her (over an interval of hours, days, weeks or months), and THEN take the MRI so you wouldn't screw-up the scan?"

There are quite a few compounds that are ingested when cannabis is smoked, far more than THC alone. I think seeing the effects on the brain as it's ingested would make a difference.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:29 AM on October 2, 2007


This strikes me as bad and unnecessary 'science'. Wouldn't you get better results if you got an individual and titrated up the amount of THC in him or her (over an interval of hours, days, weeks or months), and THEN take the MRI so you wouldn't screw-up the scan?

if I were a scientist I'd want the iealized results,

If you were a scientist, you would get at least a little bit familiar with the subject of the conversation before commenting.
In this case, you would actually read the linked articles or, at least, the complete post. I'll make it easy for you and put the relevant stuff in bold:

Most studies on the neuroscience of marijuana have used pills or injections of THC, the main active ingredient, but this is quite different from smoking - both in the way it reaches the brain and because of the fact that burning the plant creates many other chemicals which also get inhaled.
posted by c13 at 11:30 AM on October 2, 2007


vhsiv writes "Pope Guilty, if I were a scientist I'd want the iealized results, but as a patient I'd only be concerned about the results."

I would think a scientist would want results which duplicated real-world usage, rather than lab usage.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:33 AM on October 2, 2007


Oxygen deprivation, I think, is one of the reasons people prefer smoking to get their fix rather than pills or patches or gums. As we learned on Metafilter, even babies will choke themselves to experience this high, so this is probably a crucial part of pot and tobacco usage. Not to mention coughing speeds up the blood flow.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:36 AM on October 2, 2007


For $50 I will send you complete plans to the new and improved "Steam Room Jacuzzi Bong 3000." THC? You're soaking in it!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:39 AM on October 2, 2007


I'm positive there is a PKD joke (or at least a reference) in here somewhere. I just can't remember it.
posted by christopherious at 11:39 AM on October 2, 2007


I would've volunteered for that.

I mean, have you ever really looked at your brain?
posted by rtha at 11:43 AM on October 2, 2007


The first paragraph in the Wired article ties pot with addiction, yeah right. It seems like they are interested in how the brain goes from a normal state thought intermediated steps, lighting up as a person ramps up to being fully stoned. Long ago we made a bong out of a reversed chest tube drainage system, it took a 1/4z just to get it going. It was exciting, rumbling with lotza of bubbles shaking it as the chambers filled up with smoke. I quit smoking long ago but still find it really stupid that:(1) it is a crime,(2) that there are restrictions about what I can do with my body, kinda like abortion,(3) Huuuuuh I forgot.
posted by Rancid Badger at 11:53 AM on October 2, 2007


Citizen Premier writes "Oxygen deprivation, I think, is one of the reasons people prefer smoking to get their fix rather than pills or patches or gums. "

It's also a combination of cannibinols. THC by itself is nice, but it's not the same. It's one of many psychoactive compounds found in cannabis, and the levels vary according to strain and method.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:01 PM on October 2, 2007


MRI Q&A Theatre

Harvard Scientist: This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?

Volunteer Dude: Yeah, uh... Got any Doritos?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:02 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, this is illegal. I'm calling 5-0.
posted by tadellin at 12:14 PM on October 2, 2007


Are they using the same strain for each test? Otherwise, how can it be statistically significant? I mean, is it sticky shit? Because a heady buzz is a lot different than ... **wanders off**
posted by chlorus at 12:42 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Citizen Premier,

I've always been under the impression that smoking pot acts as a bronchiodialator and thus leads to increased rather than decreased exposure to oxygen. Even if this isn't the case, when you inhale smoke, there's still a fair amount of regular air in the mix.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:46 PM on October 2, 2007


Citizen Premier, people prefer use smoking (or recently, vaporization) because it is the
easiest way to titrate your dose, and because the onset of the drug
effect is the most rapid of any of the commonly used methods.

vhsiv, there is certainly value in your approach, but the method
described in the article allows researchers to see what is essentially
the same brain, with and without the effects of marijuana. There is little
confounding by the things that happen to a brain during the weeks
that your study would take.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:50 PM on October 2, 2007


As someone who's spent a fair amount of time in one of those machines, I'm just sayin'...

And wouldn't you have rather had a bong in there with you?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:21 PM on October 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


> And wouldn't you have rather had a bong in there with you?

LOL! Both before and after getting my ass handed to me upthread, yes.

(And I tend to meditate while I'm in there, so there's probably not much difference...)
posted by vhsiv at 2:14 PM on October 2, 2007


It would have been waay cooler if they put a couch and a television in there. Now that's what I'm talking about.
posted by doctorschlock at 2:40 PM on October 2, 2007


doctorschlock, they're studying addiction, not brain damage.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:07 PM on October 2, 2007


Guys... GUYS. Do you realize that, thanks to that invention, it's totally possible to smoke your mind?

Smoke. Your. Mind.

Wait... what?
posted by emelenjr at 4:22 PM on October 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


The medical school where I work reimburses study participants for their time. So I can legally smoke pot and get paid? d00d

This some previous stoner conversation from the late eighties being played out in real life. Deja vu man...deja fucking vu.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 4:49 PM on October 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


I suspect that the findings of this study will be along the lines of "OMG! People who smoke pot experience changes in brain chemistry, and now here's Some Dude From The Government to tell you why that's bad bad bad!".

Studies that attempt to quantify cannabis' utility in treating pain, wasting, and tremors don't get funded in the US. That this one did makes me think that its results will become grist for the Drug War propaganda mill.

Or maybe that last hit made me paranoid.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:04 PM on October 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


i'm happy with my vaporizor, thank you. haha
posted by DamnYouSerpico at 6:34 PM on October 2, 2007


solipsophistocracy: it's the long hold after the puff, then the subsequent coughing fit that puts your head in the spin.
[Holding isn't necessary; apparently almost all the THC is absorbed within mere moments.]
[Hacking isn't necessary: buy a vaporiser.]
[Get paid? Hell, I'd pay to be in that study. Way cool. I'd love to see before-and-after pictures of my brain.]

posted by five fresh fish at 7:06 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, the one fear I'd have of an MRI is of perplexing or exciting the technician who interprets it. If there's some whopping great hunk missing out of it, or if it's lighting up in bizarre ways, I don't think I really want to know it. Ignorance is bliss sometimes.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:08 PM on October 2, 2007


Plutor: That's run-of-the-mill pothead ingenuity if you ask me.

Indeed. We once turned my sister's Volvo into a bong. The gear shift was the bowl. It was brilliant. Her husband, my friend and I spent hours and hours perfecting our Volvo-hooka.

As it turns out, my sister was not really all that pleased, but we found that after a short and fragrant time, she forgave us. As revenge though, she let the guys into my house and they retrofitted my brass bed into a 6 person hooka. (Apparently she thought it would annoy me. Me, I just thought it was a convenience.)

Ah...Austin in the 80's...it was the best of times...
posted by dejah420 at 7:12 PM on October 2, 2007


I think BitterOldPunk is right. This study will no doubt be used to "prove" how bad pot is.
posted by Peecabu at 7:15 PM on October 2, 2007


The picture shows a nice glowing orange spot in the guy's skull. Is that where the THC activation is happening? That'd be the spot to do an intracranial injection of hash?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


yakketty me would also like to add: I am disappointed they did not make a skull bong, just for the sheer beauty of self-referential experimentation.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:40 PM on October 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


OMG. Seriously. OMG.

I'm not the only person on the planet who has turned a brass bedframe into a smoking device.

I can't tell you how important it is to share this thread with my ex-wife right now.

OMG.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:40 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Magnetic Resinance Imaging
posted by emelenjr at 7:48 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


LOL@BOP
posted by five fresh fish at 8:21 PM on October 2, 2007


Hey, don't bogart the, mmm, equipment.
posted by dreamsign at 10:10 PM on October 2, 2007


Bedknobs and Broomsticks was a tale about children using their big brass bed as a bong, isn't it?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 PM on October 2, 2007


I had an MRI once, in Germany. The crew who did it were disgusting incompetants. No warning at all about the noise, no headphones. I can't express how bad that would have played out, had I been stoned! These days, who expects high-tech to sound all mechanical and noisy?! I feared the thing was going to fly apart on my head (seriously, I had to force calm upon myself).

I'd like to see the results with this setup when someone is played some seriously tripfull music.
posted by Goofyy at 12:33 AM on October 3, 2007


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